Nevada Barr’s 18th novel featuring nomadic National Parks Service ranger Anna Pigeon sees Anna taking a camping holiday in a Minnesota forest. With her are two women, Heath and Leah, and their respective teenage daughters. The trip’s main purpose is for Heath, who cannot walk, to test some new equipment that Leah has designed with the aim of making camping more accessible to people with disabilities. But on their second evening the trip goes horribly wrong. While Anna is off on a canoeing excursion four men take Anna’s camp mates hostage with the aim of holding at least some of them for ransom.
Subsequent to this fairly brief opening the novel proceeds, at snail’s pace, to depict the progress of the kidnappers and their victims to the point where there is to be a rendezvous with an airplane and a shady sounding Mr Big. Also depicted is Anna, accompanied by a three-legged (and overly anthropomorphised) dog, tracking the hapless crowd. If the book had been shorter it might have managed to be suspenseful and hold my attention but it was far too long for its story. At one point I was so sure the end was mere moments away that I sat on a bench outside my office to await the end before starting my workday only to discover there was more than three hours to go! Eh gads!
One of the trademarks of this series is its glorious depiction of the various national parks that Anna is assigned to work in. Here though the physical setting takes a back seat to the psychological one as the story unfolds from the overlapping perspectives of Anna, Heath and the chief kidnapper known as ‘The Dude’. While I am normally one to applaud authors of long-running series taking this kind of risk I have to admit that it didn’t work for me here as much of the narrative is concerned with the inner thoughts of these three central characters and, frankly, they got more than a little repetitive. The Dude’s head proved a particularly grim place to spend time as he was so thoroughly repulsed by Heath’s disability. I’m sure people like this do exist but simply revisiting his repugnant attitude (which boiled down to ‘why would a cripple fight to live?’) didn’t move the story or anyone’s character development along.
As a fan of the series and an admirer of Anna’s pluck I was pleased to catch up with her again and, it’s not a spoiler to let on, see her defeat yet more bad guys (who doesn’t like to see the good gals win?). But other than that broad premise there really wasn’t enough in DESTROYER ANGEL to maintain my attention for the length of the novel and I’d struggle to recommend it unless you are a die-hard fan and completest. This is not a good place for those new to the series to introduce themselves to the indefatigable Anna Pigeon.
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Narrator Barbara Rosenblat
Publisher Macmillan Audio 
Length 11 hours 36 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series #18 in the Anna Pigeon series
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